“If God had known about Hawaiian pizza, there would have been a loophole in this whole kosher thing.”
What does it mean to believe? Sometimes we put in so much significance in something that we don’t stop to think why. Bar Mitzvah Boy by Mark Leiren-Young, directed by Ian Farthing, attempts to answer these questions.
At first this play seems to be about Joey (Richard Newman), who at a ripe old age wants a Bar Mitzvah, a rite of passage into adulthood… for 13 year olds. He pesters Rabbi Micheal (Gina Chiarelli) about it, insisting that he be privately tutored by the woman rather than join the class with his grandson. Further into the play the audience can see that Joey ends up maturing by helping the Rabbi get through tough times in her life.
Having only two actors seem limiting for a full length production, but thinking back at An Almost Holy Picture, which had one actor and was about thirty minutes longer, it’s not a stretch. Other than the number of actors, both plays follow a similar story about a person of faith slowly losing their daughter to a fatal illness/condition. Doubt of faith and even hatred come into play, but at the end, a glimmer of hope. After seeing a number of shows in the Pacific theatre, I am beginning to understand what Ron Reed, the Artistic Director, means by “a play perfect for Pacific Theatre”.
The actors were spectacular, Gina Chiarelli portrays her complex character with faith, doubt, mother and teacher all at once. She goes through not one but two losses; she has nothing left. Her chemistry with Richard Newman is endearing and often hilarious. Special shoutout goes to the lighting designer Jillian White, the lighting enhanced the otherwise the consistent set and effectively created tone changes, and the light on the ceiling was an excellent touch.
The hilarious and heartwarming Bar Mitzvah Boy is running until April 14th, catch it while you can!